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Construction begins on 49-unit affordable housing complex in West Oakland | TribLIVE.com
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Construction begins on 49-unit affordable housing complex in West Oakland

Natasha Lindstrom
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Courtesy of Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects
An architect's rendering of a three-story, elevator-serviced building under construction just west of Alequippa Place, a low-income housing complex in West Oakland.

A $16 million project to renovate and expand an aging low-income housing complex in Pittsburgh’s West Oakland neighborhood began this week.

The nonprofit Oakland Planning and Development Corp. is contributing $1.9 million and has secured an additional $14 million from public and private sources to build 25 new apartments and renovate 24 existing ones at Allequippa Place, a six-building complex dating to 1927.

Twelve of Allequippa Place’s 24 units will be converted from two-bedroom apartments to ones with three bedrooms during the renovation, which also will include parking lot resurfacing, new landscaping and installing dishwashers.

Plans also include refurbishing seven vacant lots on Wadsworth Street.

“Oakland has long been a vibrant residential neighborhood that hosts the universities and hospitals that drive the economy of Pittsburgh. We are honored to work with OPDC to invest in affordable housing in the neighborhood so that generations of families can continue to call Oakland their home,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement.

Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald have deemed affordable housing a top priority, with city officials contemplating how to raise up to $10 million a year and offering bigger perks for developers to address the issue.

Countywide, 30 to 45 affordable spaces are available for every 100 households that are extremely low-income, or ones where earnings total less than $15,000 a year, data compiled by the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania show.

A quarter of Allegheny County households make less than $25,000 a year, and 47 percent of renters spend at least one-third of their income on rent, the alliance said.

While designing the West Oakland project, OPDC assistant director Elly Fisher said that “providing family-sized units was a big priority for us” as the city grapples with a shortage of affordable, three-bedroom apartments.

Once completed, 13 of the 49 new and renovated apartments will have three bedrooms.

The newly constructed building just west of Allequippa Place will feature one three-bedroom space.

Prospective tenants can begin applying in January.

All spaces will go to residents who make 60 percent or less of Allegheny County’s average median income, known as the AMI, meaning individuals who make up to $29,940 a year or up to $46,140 for a household of five.

Rental rates for one-bedroom units (639 to 695 square feet) will start as low as $173 per month for people who make 20 percent or less of the AMI and up to $572 for the same units for those making 60 percent of the AMI.

Three-bedroom units (911 square feet) start at $226 per month for people making 20 percent or less of the AMI and are up to $739 per month for those making 60 percent or less.

About nine previous Allequippa tenants relocated last year are expected to move back into the complex, OPDC spokeswoman Andrea Boykowycz said.

OPDC also buys, rehabs and sells single-family homes through the Oakland Community Land Trust. The trust set the goal of acquiring and renovating six more by the end of 2018, OPDC spokeswoman Rebekkah Ranallo said.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or on Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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